Oregon Meth House Owners Deliver Petition to Freddie Mac

The Hankins deny that Freddie Mac encouraged them to test their home besides testing the structural integrity of the property. Their home is not on registries because there was no enforcement on the property.

After learning that thousands of homes across the country may also have been used for illegal drug production or the settings of heavy drug-use, the Hankins are planning to deliver a petition to Freddie Mac's New York headquarters to ask the organization to require testing of homes before they are sold.

The couple is also considering legal action.

The Hankins also reached out to lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who have expressed interest in Freddie Mac's response to the petition.

"This is one of those cases where common sense should prevail," said Tom Caiazza, a spokesman for Sen. Wyden. "It shouldn't take an act of Congress for Freddie Mac to figure out that it's not a good idea to sell homes that have been used to manufacture meth."

Brett Sherry, program coordinator for Oregon Health Authority's Clandestine Drug Lab program, said the number of homes that local authorities refer to him have fallen dramatically since the program started in 1990.

Police refer homes that were illegal labs for any number of drugs, though most -- Sherry says "99 percent" -- are producing methamphetamine.

Sherry said he does not have record of the Hankins' home.

"It's very possible the property was used for manufacture or meth use," he said. "If someone smokes methamphetamine, that can contaminate the surface with meth residue."

The busiest year was 2001, when the program saw tested 324 labs.

In the past three years, only 10 labs have been referred to the program per year.

So far this year, the program has been referred to 10 illegal labs, the most recent of which was noted on Monday. That lab was for dimethyltryptamine, another illegal drug that is growing in popularity.

There is no single common symptom if someone is sick from methamphetamine residue, Sherry said, but it is wise to get a home tested, if you suspect it is contaminated. Otherwise, a family could be exposed to any number of toxic chemicals, like sodium hydroxide, which is normally used in drain cleaners to dissolve materials.

"The example we typically use is a child crawling on floor," he said. "It's very easy for them to absorb methamphetamine residues."

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